Is Tsai Ing-wen "People with Money?" Is Chang Rong-fa "People of Taiwan?"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 4, 2011
Summary: After a number of business leaders openly endorsed Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai Ing-wen said: The people behind President Ma are all "people with money." The people behind Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, are "the people of Taiwan." Tsai was attempting to incite both "ethnic" conflict and class conflict. She was attempting to set "people with money" and "people without money" at each other's throats. She was attempting to set "the people of Taiwan" and "people not of Taiwan" at each others' throats.
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After a number of business leaders openly endorsed Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai Ing-wen said: The people behind President Ma are all "people with money." The people behind Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, are "the people of Taiwan."
Tsai was attempting to incite both "ethnic" conflict and class conflict. She was attempting to set "people with money" and "people without money" at each other's throats. She was attempting to set "the people of Taiwan" and "people not of Taiwan" at each others' throats. Tsai even racheted up her demagoguery. Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric was a case of "two for the price of one." She insinuated that "people with money" are not "people of Taiwan." She insinuated that "the people of Taiwan" are "people without money." She insinuateed that "people with money" only know how to curry favor with the president, and are indifferent to "people without money."
Tsai Ing-wen's demagoguery reminds us of her very first tv ad: "I am Tsai Ing-wen, I am Taiwanese!" That was the opening shot in a campaign to demagogue "ethnic" identity. Now Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric is "two for the price of one." The public however would like to ask Tsai Ing-wen a question: Are you yourself "people with money," or "people without money?"
Tsai Ing-wen is the pampered princess of a wealthy family. Of course she is "people with money." Of course she is "Taiwanese." Therefore Tsai Ing-wen herself has shown that "Taiwanese" can also be "people with money." How many "people with money" on Taiwan, are "not people of Taiwan?" Why is Tsai Ing-wen stooping to such sleazy rhetoric? Why is she pitting those "people with money" who support Ma Ying-jeou's political and economic views against "Taiwanese?"
Given Tsai Ing-wen's "two for the price of one" rhetoric, we may wish to examine the long-standing relationship between political leaders and business tycoons. Chiang Ching-kuo dedicated his life to establishing a framework within which free enterprise could thrive. But he scrupulously avoided cultivating personal relationships with business leaders. Under Lee Teng-hui, all that changed. Lee was very chummy indeed with business people. Evergreen's Chang Rong-fa, Chi Mei's Hsu Wen-lung, and Yi Mei's Kao Chi-shang all publicly supported Lee. By the time Chen Shui-bian came to power, wealthy businessmen were driving up to Chen Shui-bian's Official Residence and delivering up cardboard boxes stuffed with cash. Under Ma Ying-jeou, the relationship between government officials and business leaders reverted to the way it was under Chiang Ching-kuo. Ma srcupulously avoided private contacts with business people. He became even warier of such contacts after taking flak for dining with Fubon Bank officials.
Ma's interaction with business leaders is limited to shared political and economic convictions regarding how to bolster the nation's economy. Ma's interaction with business leaders is as different from Chen Shui-bian's as night and day. Just listen to the entrepreneurs who have endorsed Ma Ying-jeou. They all offer the same reason for endorsing Ma: he is squeaky clean. The entrepreneurs who supported Chen Shui-bian and the DPP could never say that about their candidate.
Tsai Ing-wen says the people behind President Ma are all "people with money." Her implication is that the Ma administration is guilty of government business collusion. This accusation is unfair, not just to Ma Ying-jeou, but to the entrepreneurs Tsai has contemptuously labeled "ma you you" (a play on the name of famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, meaning "friends of Ma"). Did they endorse Ma out of greed? Are they seeking backroom deals? Or did they endorse Ma simply because they fear for Taiwan and its people? The public knows they are far more concerned about saving Taiwan than they are about backing Ma Ying-jeou. Does Tsai Ing-wen really have no qualms about pitting "people with money" against "the people of Taiwan?"
When it comes to relations between government officials and business leaders, Ma Ying-jeou is the cleanest, most honest president since the lifting of martial law. He has virtually no private contacts with business leaders. This year is the first time since direct presidential elections were instituted that industry and business leaders have endorsed candidates so openly. Their shared motive for endorsing Ma is summed up in the newspaper ad posted by Ruentex Industries chief Yin Yan-liang: "Taiwan needs an open and stable policy environment. Taiwan can not afford stagnation and uncertainty in cross-Strait relations."
Evergreen's Chang Rong-fa was once a generous benefactor to Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. This is common knowledge. But Chang Rong-fa now says "Ma Ying-jeou has his shortcomings. But he is a leader with personal integrity who can be trusted." Such views cannot be dismissed as merely the views of "people with money." Such views reflect the views of "the people of Taiwan."
Every society has a pyramidal rich to poor hierarchy. Large corporations boast tens of thousands of employees. SMEs proliferate in the middle and lower reaches of the production chain. Any disturbance can easily increase or decrease GDP growth one to two percent. These employees, who number in the millions, are breadwinners for entire families. These business leaders are not merely seeking conditions favorable for themselves. They also speak for pineapple cake and night market vendors. Tsai Ing-wen has demonized these "people with money." She has depicted them as enemies of "the people of Taiwan." She has depicted them as enemies of "people without money."
Tsai Chieh-sheng, Tsai Ing-wen's father, started out as an auto repairman. He is a perfect example of how "people without money" in the Republic of China became "people with money" over the past 60 years. He is a perfect example of how Tsai Ing-wen became a "Taiwanese person with money." Why is Tsai classifying "people with money" who do not share her political and economic views as "not Taiwanese?" After all, Ma Ying-jeou is a presidential candidate who enjoys the support of approximately half the electorate. The vast majority of his supporters are not "people with money." Tsai Ing-wen cannot characterize any of them as "not Taiwanese."
It is normal for people to hold different political and economic views in a democratic society. But it is not normal to stoop to sleazy demagoguery. It is not normal to incite "ethnic" and class hatred. Tsai Ing-wen is "people with money." She is also "Taiwanese." But isn't Chang Rong-fa? Isn't Wang Wen-yuan? Isn't Yan Kai-tai? Aren't Bruce Cheng and Terry Gou?
Tsai Ing-wen, if you are elected president, which of these "people with money" will you denounce as "not Taiwanese?"